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New Appointments and Organizational Changes

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dear Colleagues

Thank you for the warm welcome as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. I am delighted to be here. UTA has made significant progress in both standing and recognition, and we have much more that we are fully capable of doing to serve the North Texas region, the state, and the nation.

I would like to share my vision for UTA; one that builds on the tremendous trajectory on which you have helped place the university with your hard work, dedication, and accomplishments over the last several years. Our plan moving forward will focus on the thematic areas of excellence articulated in the far-reaching Strategic Plan created by you and your colleagues, with our overarching emphasis on enabling student access, retention, and success. We are already increasing faculty numbers, expanding available resources in key strategic areas, and putting in place a sustained effort to recruit an increasingly diverse and capable student body at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Once they pass through our doors, we will deliver to them every possible tool to ensure they have a successful college experience and leave us fully equipped to be active and contributing participants in society.

Additionally, we will work with our K-12 educational partners in new and ground-breaking ways, along with engaging our regional industry and business community leaders to the full extent of their participation, so that every stage of the educational pipeline will be dedicated toward producing informed, capable, and productive citizens of the future. More details will follow in the weeks and months to come.

I am pleased to share with you some new appointments and organizational changes to the Office of the Provost that will equip us to meet these aspirational commitments.

Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Policy

College of Engineering Associate Dean Pranesh Aswath’s exceptional career as a tribologist, fracture mechanics and biomaterials engineer, distinguished administrator, and engaging professor and associate dean has made him a successful recruiter of undergraduate and graduate students. His active research includes initiatives to develop environmentally friendly high performance lubricants for internal combustion engines and materials for orthopedic and dental applications that is funded by industry, federal and state agencies. He has worked with industry partners such as Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Company, Chevron Oronite, Boeing Corporation and the research labs such as Argonne National Lab and Oakridge National Lab. A former Fulbright Faculty Fellow and now a Fellow of ASM Iternational and the Society of Tribology and Lubrication Engineers, Pranesh has agreed to join our staff as Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Policy, effective immediately.

In this position he will provide leadership and executive oversight for the University’s academic programs and policies as we work to implement the UTA Strategic Plan Bold Solutions / Global Impact. Most specifically, he will work directly with me to articulate a strategic vision for the development, review and enhancement of undergraduate and graduate education; further develop on-line and international education; and provide increased support for programs to achieve student success at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Associate Vice Provost for K-16 Initiatives

College of Education Dean Jeanne Gerlach has led not only the university’s production of skilled and talented education professionals that make up the majority of North Texas teachers, principals, and superintendents, but also our K-16 partnerships with and contributions to the many ISDs that in turn send us their students. As such, she is a leading figure in the public education landscape and has a distinguished track record of accomplishment in raising the bar for UTA’s support of an increasingly educated citizenry.

Effective February 1, 2016, Dr. Gerlach is dedicating her full attention to this critical area as UTA’s full time Associate Vice Provost for K-16 Initiatives, a title and set of responsibilities she has already ably had for years in conjunction with the deanship. In this capacity, she will focus her complete efforts on helping lead UTA’s increased focus on the K-16 educational pipeline and enable a greater contribution by the university to Texas’s stated goal of having 60% of adults age 25 to 34 hold degrees by the year 2030.

Current Associate Dean Dr. John Smith has graciously agreed to serve as Interim Dean of the college. I will be meeting with the College of Education faculty very shortly to learn about their vision for the future of the College of Education and their aspirations for their new leader. A national search for a new dean for the College of Education will commence soon, and we will identify a visionary and nationally recognized leader who will catalyze further growth, build on the accomplishments of Dr. Gerlach, and make UTA’s College of Education the premier institution for k-12 preparation in Texas and across the nation.

These appointments will send a strong message to the education community that UTA intends to increase and deepen the many ways we support the ability of every interested individual to obtain a college degree; forge new relationships with our K-16 partners; and enable our faculty to innovate and deliver an even more exceptional educational experience to our students.

Vice Provost for Academic Analytics and Operations

After many years of service, Dr. Dale Wasson, Vice Provost for Academic Analytics and Operations, will retire from the university in July. In the time Dale has served at UTA, this title is misleading, as he has responsibility for recruitment, admissions, records, registration, financial aid, enrollment, course scheduling, veterans affairs, institutional effectiveness and reporting, and various student support programs. He will be missed; I have heard more than once that Dale is the most knowledgeable person on campus.

We will not be filling the recently posted position of Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management. Instead, we will be reviewing the Provost’s office in great detail, evaluating organization and function, and intend to have more information to share with you as we create a responsive and progressive operation that will focus on strategic enrollment growth, augment student access and success, and enhance academic and curricular innovation. We expect to conduct a national search to complete our academic leadership team.

I express my gratitude to Jeanne and Pranesh for accepting the challenge and working with me and to Dale for his long and dedicated service to UTA.

Warm regards,

Linda Johnsrud
UT Arlington Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost ad Interim